Through painting and working with fabrics, Amanda Smith explores notions of borders, territory, and human delimitation of the landscape. Her gridded pictorial compositions are reminiscent of quilting techniques, which she also uses with great freedom in textile pieces. In this back-and-forth between the two media, she expresses the desire to create synthetic spaces that evoke an idealized nature.
Amanda constructs these spaces by mixing fragments of photographs or fabrics that she has dyed with motifs borrowed from the textile industry. They are sometimes decorative, replicating shapes inspired by the plant and animal realms, and sometimes utilitarian (for camouflage, for example). In her works, whether sewn or painted, Amanda juxtaposes these fragments in a way that blurs their provenance and generates a tension between true and false, reality and her distorted portrayals.
During her residency at Est-Nord-Est, Amanda experimented with the possibility of transposing the collage method into space, to give body to her works as objects. She explored the materiality of her quilts by subjecting them to climatic conditions on the shore of the river. With her pieces wrapped around her, her body became a support, almost erased by the movement of the fabric, as captured in photographs documenting her outings. The images acted as collages in space, summoning bits of many different places. Like the lines that trace out the grids of her compositions, her intervention in the landscape leads us to reflect on what it means to discover and cross through real and imagined territories.
Amanda Smith’s recent work engages in forms of transfer, translation, and substitution by exploring painting ideas outside of the traditional materials of the discipline. In 2018, she began a series of quilted works that referred back to one of her previous paintings, using it as a sort of Rosetta stone for a new body of work. These works try to square seemingly incongruent visual spaces and merge incompatible aspects of her own lived experience, and in the process have connected the artist to an ongoing intuitive and personal sense of color, space, and vision. The artist thinks of quilts as objects well-suited for time travel, as they are commonly passed from generation to generation as objects of visual pleasure and tactile comfort. In this context, she thinks of revisiting her old paintings through quilts as recalling “past lives” by creating retrospective heirlooms. Smith earned her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her BA from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. She has exhibited and lectured nationally and internationally, with exhibitions in New York, Kansas City, Houston, the Twin Cities, Miami and Seattle metros, and Chile. She was a visiting artist at Temple University, Rome, Italy, and has been an artist-in-residence at Fljótstunga in Iceland, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Arrowmont Pentaculum, Art 342 in Fort Collins, and Monson Arts in Maine. She is an Assistant Professor of Painting at Missouri State University.